Friday, April 29, 2005

Friday, Sweet Friday!

Not only is it Friday (my favorite day of the work week!) but I'm skipping out of work early today and it's also a pay week! Cha-ching, baby! Very cool day indeed.

I did take last night off, as I said. It was nice to just relax with the family. I'm still plugging on "Fish" today but it's going slow; only 1,400 words. I'm all ready for camping this weekend (though they're calling for thunderstorms tomorrow. Accursed weather-people!) The boy woke up this morning with a nasty sore throat and a cough. The wife's taking him to the doctor and he might have to miss the campout this weekend. He's gonna be real disappointed if he does, we're doing a wild event that he's been looking forward to.

Here's the story of the day. I saw these knuckleheads on the Today Show the other morning (I was quite pissed that they'd simply "found" so much cash, instead of me!) Turns out they stole it all! The cops say they'd never have found out if the idiots hadn't been making the rounds on all the talk shows. Talk about Karma! Now that amuses me!

So, I'll be camping all weekend (with or without the boy) so I won't be posting until Monday (not really a surprise to you now is it?) Any of you who have influence with your preferred deity might consider putting in a good word about the weather . . . I HATE being rained on!


Thursday, April 28, 2005

Snoopy Dancin'!!!!!

Oh Yea! (much doing of the happy-Snoopy-dance!)

Godslayer edits are DONE! I hit a roll last night and pushed on through to the end. Major load off the shoulders! Now it's on to type-in (starting Monday) and then out the door. Waiting for Monday (crappy ass day!) because I'm off camping again this weekend. I'll be gone from Friday night through Sunday afternoon and when I get home I usually just crash. (Running an event for 200+ boys this weekend - I'll be whipped!) Tell you what, I am really thrilled about how the book came out (is that a good thing, or should it worry me?) I think it's got a lot of action and tight narrative. I'm still not sure on the final length but I figure it's gotta be somewhere in the 80k-90k range. That's a good first novel length, right? (Come on, folks: humor me!) That makes Novel #2 done for this year and #3 at about 80% complete. I don't know about the rest of y'all but for me, that's damn good work! Even better, I have two other novels waiting in the wings after I'm done with "Fish" (no work on that yet today.) I also have to do my Agent query letter now and start getting it out there. I figure I'll do that next week, when I start type in. I'm so psyched (yes, I'm a refugee from the 80's!) right now! I'm sure that will stop once the rejections start coming in but today is a very good day.

Speaking of writing, Holly Lisle (a wonderful author and a great help to those of us starting out) is having some career issues right now and could use a little bit of help. If you haven't already been, stop by here and read her request. I think she deserves a boost from those of us who use her site regularly.

Interesting story on the news last night about honey bees. Seems there are parasites that have killed nearly 1/2 of the bee population in the U.S. last year. The bees are a necessary part of many plants/crops pollination cycle and the loss can have dangerous consequences for the nation's agricultural industry. I'm totally fascinated by this. I had no idea the little guys were so important to our ecology (not to mention our economy!) Can't wait to see what this does to honey prices. That cup of tea may get pretty pricey!

Oohhh!! This story was real cool too! It's about growing human organs inside sheep. It works well from what they say but people are getting worried because the human cells are also growing in the sheep's brains! Cool, huh?

Man, if those two articles aren't Sci-Fi novels waiting to happen, I don't know what is!

Still feeling happy right now. Gonna go home tonight and just relax a bit (after packing for the weekend) and enjoy hanging with the family. Chillin' and watching toob with folks you love is always a good thing!


Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Handcuffing 5 Year Olds

Did I ever mention that I have five (yup, you read that right!) brothers? Yea, my poor mother had to live with six boys and the old man in the house 24/7. If you have trouble visualizing the carnage, imagine a house that smells like the inside of a wet gym bag, with crusty sweat socks hanging from the curtain rods, and you won't be far off.

You'd think there's be a lot of fighting in the house with all that testosterone assembled into such a tiny area but that wasn't the case. When we were growing up, the six of us got along very well. We argued of course but there were never any fist fights in the house (that would have meant dealing with the old man and nobody wanted that!) The only two who I ever recall fighting growing up were Bryan and I. Man, we were oil and water (or kerosene and a match, not sure which). We would go off on each other on a daily basis and yea: there was a lot of flying fists (though never in the house). Generally that meant an ass whippin' for yours truly since Bry is almost seven years older than me. The rest of us all got along fine though.

Strangely, I'm not very close with any of my brothers now, except for Bry. I never see any of them more than once a year or so for family events. We still get along great and have a good time together but the closeness isn't there, even though we all live within 50 miles of each other. Bryan lives further away from me than any of the others and I see him more often. It just struck me as funny that the one I couldn't stand as a kid is the one I'm closest to as an adult. Weird, huh?

Did anybody see the video on the news recently of the five year old girl being handcuffed by the police and taken out of school? The child was completely out of control and hitting her teacher who (of course) could do nothing to restrain her for fear of a lawsuit. So, they called the girl's mother, who was too "busy" to come take care of the problem. With no other recourse, the school called the police who restrained the child and took her out of the school. Now (again: of course) the mother is suing the school & the police for traumatizing her daughter. Amazing. Simply amazing.

Here's an idea: why don't the parents of all the other children in this school get together and sue the mother for the trauma she caused their children by allowing her child to rampage at will through the school? How about calling DYFS and having them investigate why the mom refused to leave her job early to address the situation? How about she stands up and apologizes to the teachers and everyone else involved for the behavior of her child instead of rubbing her palms together and looking for a pay day? Nope. There's money to be had and the mom's lawyer is looking to sue everyone who ever set eyes on this kid.

Have I mentioned I hate lawyers?

Ah well, onto the writing. No editing last night, I didn't get home until after 10:00 and I was too beat to even think about it. I got another 2,000 or so words on "Fish" today. It's going a little slow right now, life is interfereing with my writing again! (I wish it would stop that!) I should have time to get some editing in tonight. The wife is off to get the hair done tonight so it'll be me and the boy for dinner, then a quick cleanup and (hopefully) right to work on GS. Lee Goldman has a very funny link to the Ten Worst Opening Sentences for a Novel on his site today. Sadly, there were several that I thought were not only funny, but pretty damn interesting. I particularly liked #2 & #1 . . . hell, I'd read those books!


Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Monday and the ACLU

Howdy, all. I'm back. Sorry for the delay in posting but Monday thoroughly kicked my ass. Typical crap: too much work, broken down cars, sytem crashed. Just another fikkin' Monday!

Anyway, it's Tuesday (thank God!) and I'm feeling a bit more myself today. The weekend was a complete bust from a writing standpoint, I got nothing done at all but I did spend a lot of time with the wife & kid which is always cool. Weekends are pretty much family time at this point so I'm not surprised I didn't get to the writing. I write all during the week (day & night) so I'm not too devastated.

Let's see . . . what did I do so far this week? I got in 2,800 words on "Fish" (with more to go today!) and I edited another 40 or so pages on GS last night. Getting close to the end on that. I think there's only another 80 or so pages left. I'm getting nervous actually. The next step is type-in, which should only take a few days, and then it's out into the cruel light of the publishing world for GS. I am very worried that I am completely fooling myself about my skill level. I'm going to be devastated if I find out I really don't have the talent for this.

I have to stop in over at FM today & check in with the Crit Circle. I stopped in for a moment yesterday and posted a reply to one of my Crits, then my entire system tanked and I was done for the day. I believe Lee and Mel both have posted pieces I need to Crit so I'll have to spend some time on that. Don't want the ladies to think I abandoned them!

Exercise is going well still, I'm getting to it every day & finding that I'm actually enjoying it. My concern at the moment is that I am quickly building muscle but it's under all the fat & I'm afraid I'm beginning to look even more like a beached whale than when I started! Man, I really hope the weight loss catches up to the muscle growth at some point or I'm going to look like a very pale, bald, sumo wrestler! (Yea, like I don't already!)

Just got several e-mails about the ACLU fighting to forbid the BSA from using any and all public facilities. This gets under my skin. The ACLU has a hard-on for the Boy Scouts and is really just harassing them at this point. The latest issue is in San Diego where the local BS Troop has been leasing land in a public park. The land originally belonged to the Scouts, they turned it over to the military in WWII to support the war effort, after which the town voted to lease several acres to the BSA. The Scouts built a meeting building, swimming pool, and a 600 seat ampi-theater -which they made available for public use- all through fundraising and BSA effort. It didn't cost the town a dime. In 1957, the town leased a large portion of the rest of the park to the BSA for $1/year provided they took total charge of the upkeep and care of the land and that it was always available for public use. The BSA has cared for these grounds for over 50 years -without cost to the town- and now the ACLU has just won a court order to have them evicted. The reason? Because this relationship violates the tenets of separation of church & state. The fact that the government had hundreds of thousands of similar arrangements with other religious and civic organizations is not relevant. That the land was originally theirs or that they've kept it open to the public without reserve (last year the site hosted the two-day San Diego Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Pride Festival) is not relevant. The Boy Scouts do not allow homosexual leaders among their ranks, so they must be thrown out of every public site in the nation.

Why does the ACLU see separation of church and state as a one way street? Why is the government allowed to apply intense legal pressure to a "religious" organization to change their beliefs and accede to government regulated membership rules? Why is it that the ACLU sees only this single problem (and I agree it is an issue that needs to be looked at, but internally by the BSA!) and disregards the positive things the BSA teaches and the good it does for the community and nation? In a country where kids are shooting each other in schools, doing drugs, and spend more time playing X-Box than doing homework, do we really want to cripple an organization supporting kids that spend their weekends doing service projects? Because the ACLU disagrees with them on one issue? Even after the Supreme Court upheld their right to that stance?

Think about it: how many teenagers do you know (personally) that do community service work on a regular basis? How many of them devote time to food pantries, homeless and battered women's shelters and camps for handicapped children? My boys all do. They put in anywhere from 8-20 hrs./month at those places. Multiply that by the hundreds of thousands of Boy Scouts and think about the good that does for this country and for people who don't have recourse to inexhaustible funds, like the ACLU does. You think the BSA is wrong for not allowing gay leaders? Okay, fine. I have no problem with that. Get involved in the program AND HELP CHANGE IT! Don't destroy a fantastic program for hundred of thousands of children because you disagree with the organization on this one issue.

The ACLU is government funded. They are using (literally) hundreds of millions of your tax dollars to destroy the BSA for the single reason that they do not admit homosexual leaders. This despite the Supreme Court ruling that the BSA had the right to control their own membership. In essence, the ACLU is using financial and political blackmail to destroy and organization they don't approve of, in direct violation of a Supreme Court decision that upheld that organization. Isn't that wonderful?

Okay, done now.

Sorry for the tirade but this get under my skin. It's a misuse of governmental funds & power. It's a shame too. In general I support the ACLU (though they do go way the hell out into left field sometimes) and think that our Civil Liberties need an active organization to protect them. Sadly, the ACLU is suffering from some very misguided leadership right now. I hope they'll think this through a bit more before doing more damage.


Friday, April 22, 2005

Friday Rocks, Spyware Sucks!

Friday. I like Friday, it makes me happy. Even a lousy Friday is better than the best Monday that ever existed. I mean, have you ever heard someone say: "Thank God, it's Monday"? (If you have, kill them. Kill them right away! They are the spawn of Satan and will destroy all of existence attempting to free their vile master -Creator of Monday- from his infernal prison!!! Ahhhhhhhhhh!!!)

Ahem. Sorry, I'm back now.

Payed a visit to the local bookstore last night. The wife needed to pick up a book to help plan our upcoming vacation and asked if I wanted to go to the bookstore with her. (Well, DUH!) Got two decent books off the bargain tables, one Ursula LeGuin and one Stephen R. Donaldson -both exceptional writers- and at $5.00 each (hardcover) I couldn't go wrong! Got home in time to watch "Survivor" with the boy (he loves that show) and "The Apprentice" with the wife. After that, I spent another hour working on GS. I got another 30 pages or so done. I'm getting close to the end but I have this nagging fear that I'm going to have to re-work a chunk of the ending. The way my MC gets into the bad guy's place reads like I pulled it right off the Evil Overlord List. So far today I've only done about 1,500 words on "Fish" but I'm hoping for more later on. I had a bunch of errands to run at lunch, so . . .

Paperback Writer has a post on her sight about the sell through numbers an author needs to make bestseller lists. From reading the post, I guess there are a lot of folks out there who are annoyed at her for being so honest about her numbers. In the past, she's even posted how much she gets for advances on her books and some other details on her contracts, etc. I don't understand why anyone would take offense at this. I think it's pretty damn thoughtful of her to give honest info to folks like me who are just starting out in the industry and don't have a great understanding of the reality behind the numbers. To pacify her critics, she's only giving out the numbers to people who request them by e-mail so I sent her a request. Sad isn't it? folks should be thrilled she's willing to be so open but they give her a load of crap instead. Strange world we live in . . .

I'm getting a little annoyed at my computer right now. I visited a new blog yesterday and made the mistake of clicking on a linked picture. The damn thing was infested with Spy/Adware so I had to spend a good portion of my morning cleaning it off. I thought I had it all but as I'm typing this, one of them is popping up IE windows on my screen. I HATE THIS CRAP!!!! Why don't the lawyers (who love suing everyone under the sun) sue these bastards who dump thousands of files on your system without permisson? This strikes me as a lot more criminal than say, buying drugs. At least the guy buying the drugs has a choice! I can only imagine how much time and money crap like this is costing corporations to clean up.


Thursday, April 21, 2005

Nurses, Aspirin, and Genocide

Another great writing day!

I did another 5,000 words on "Fish" today, finishing out the section that had caused me so much trouble and made me put it aside in the first place. I think it went pretty well but my rule is no second reads until it's time for editing so I can't be sure. Think I did a good job of showing the horror of the scene without being too graphic. (More Alfred Hitchcock than Wes Craven, ya know?) I also got in a huge chunk of editing last night on GS, I pushed through a solid 50+ pages of line edits with only a thousand or so words of necessary add-ins. I figure both of these novels should fall into the 80k-90k range when done. Good size (from what my research tells me) for a first novel.

What's up with school nurses today? When did they become the biggest pushovers on the entire planet? Yesterday, my boy went to the nurse's office because he had a headache. She wouldn't give him aspirin (They're not allowed for legal reasons. Thank you to all the lawyers!) so she called my wife at work and suggested she come take him home. Home??? For a headache? Christ, I distinctly remember vomiting for an hour straight in school and my nurse telling me to "lay down for five minutes" before she shipped me back to class. The conversation between the nurse and my wife went something like this:

WIFE: "Take him home? Why?"
NURSE: "He has a headache."
WIFE: "Is he vomiting?"
NURSE: "No."
WIFE: "Is he bleeding? Does he have uncontrollable diarreah?"
NURSE: "No, just a headache."
WIFE: "Is he asking to come home?"
NURSE: "No, he just wants an aspirin"
WIFE: "Then give him one and send him back to class!"
NURSE: "Oh, we can't do that!"
WIFE: "What do you do when kids have a headache then?"
NURSE: "We send them home!"
WIFE: "Put my son on the phone, please."
SON: "Hi, mom."
WIFE: "GO BACK TO CLASS!!!" <click>

I don't know about you, but I feel much safer knowing there are such skilled professionals ready to assit my son at his place of schooling! Come on people, when does it all stop? if you can't even allow an R.N. to dispense aspirin to a child for fear of a lawsuit, what the hell is the point of having one on staff? Save the cost of her salary and put it towards something worthwhile (like a coin operated aspirin dispenser!) We wonder why kids in the U.S. are getting one of the lowest rated educations in the world when we let the ambulance chasers put so much fear into the administration that they can't actually take the chance on doing their job for fear of lawsuits!

Okay, back now. Took a little side trip to bitchy-land but I'm back.

Want a disturbing read today? Try this article on Monica Jackson's site. (I caught the thread off Holly Lisle's site). I suggest you follow some of her other links regarding the topic as well. She makes some very disturbing accusations which (as a middle-class white male) I'd like to deny but I'm student enough of history to know that genocide is not as far fetched as it might sound at first. Ask the Jews, the Kurds, or the American Indians. As I said: disturbing.


Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Damn, I'm Good!

Ah, writerly dedication! I've got it by the bucket load!

I did actually manage to get in some editing on GS last night (not a huge amount- -only 10 pages or so) despite being at the COH until 9:30. After that, the wife and I relaxed and watched "The Shield". I have to laugh every time I see Michael Chiklis because back when I had (some) hair everyone told me I looked like the guy from "The Commish". That stopped after I shaved my head, then he comes back as the shaved lead on this show. (Sadly, I do not have the same physique he has now. Yet!) So for those of you who are wondering what I look like - that's it! (sort of - you need to picture him fatter, with a goatee!)

I also got into actual work on "Fish" today, got in 2,500 words which is not a bad start. I got a surprising turn of events in the scene that had me stopped cold and it just ran on from there. I'm finally getting the idea that I have to just type and let the characters tell the story. It doesn't work for me any other way. Besides, that's much more fun!

So, my son got a special award last night at his COH: they named him "New Scout of the Year". There is a separate SOTY award for the whole troop, this one is just for the guys who became scouts in the last year. He was completely shocked (and very proud) that he was chosen. I knew he was getting it but he had no clue. The look on his face when they called his name was priceless! The first thing he asked when we got home was if I had anything to do with him getting the award. He was thrilled when he found out I had no part in the vote for that award, he loved that he'd been selected on his own merits and not because I'm one of the Scoutmasters. I'm real proud of him, there are a lot of great kids in our Troop and he stood out above the rest. Moments like that are what make up a great life, ya know? He also made his 1st Class Scout rank last night as well as picking up three merit badges and a half dozen or so patches for various events we've attended. All the boys in the troop received a "Good Turn for America" patch for all the community service work they've done over the last year. It's something else to watch these kids work when they're doing something they think is important. Every year we do a service project at a summer camp in our area for disabled children. Last year the guys from our troop (ages 11-17) moved over six tons of topsoil and mulch, removed and re-built the entire flooring system for a 40'x40' cabin, and cleared weeds and bracnches from over a mile of trails . . . all in one day! For all you folks out there who worry about the future in our children's hands - hang out with a few Scouts some day and you'll sleep a lot better at night. These kids are remarkable!

I see the Catholic church elected a new Pope. I don't much care, I left religion behind me a long time ago but I am very amused by all the pictures on the Net that show Pope Benedict XVI alongside Darth Sidious. The resemblance is really uncanny! I particularly like this one. Don't think it's a good thing for them to elect a 78 year old arch-conservative though. The Church missed the boat to make some positive strides for itself by not choosing someone a bit more moderate.

So, I'm hoping to get in a few good hours of editing tonight since the only thing to distract me is a tape of last night's "Amazing Race" and I can put that on after I'm done. Gotta get moving on these edits, they're taking much longer than I wanted!


Tuesday, April 19, 2005

A Dark Story

Finally finished the GS insert chapter I was doing last night. Damn thing ended up at nearly 10k words, a good bit more than I thought it would be but I like what I got, so it stays. I even got in a few pages of line edits, which will hopefully go faster now that I'm done (again!) with inserts. I also managed to finish the read through/edit of "Fish" today. Now I remember why I put the damn thing aside! I left the MC at the climactic point of his childhood memories (they're flashbacks spaced throughout) wherein he is about to explain how/why he and his best friend murdered his older brother. (Told you this was a dark story.) I know why, and I know how, but they are both particularly brutal and stomach wrenching scenes that are going to take a lot of skill to write without coming off like slasher-fic. I need to get the brutality of it all across without the vulgarity (if that makes any sense). Not an easy task but I think my skills may have grown enough over the last six months to give it a try. I'll let you know how it goes.

Got the first Crit from Lee over on FM about my latest chapter. I have proven yet again that I am the Master-of-Run-On-Sentences! As I explained to her (coverng up for my bad writing habits!) I never look back at what I've written as I go, I just try to get as many thoughts on the paper as I can at a time, then go back and fix it in edits. You buying that? No? That's okay, I doubt she will either!

Busy night with the Scouts tonight; doing the whole Court of Honor thing. Don't think I'll get home early enough to do any writing and if I do I will probably just crash on the couch with the wife. The whole chilling-out & snuggling (crap, did I just say snuggle? Well, there goes my membership in the He-Man-Women Haters Club!) is definitely underated. I have learned it is one of the best ways (at least the pg-13 version) of keeping a marriage going strong. It's a very good thing. If you haven't done so with your significant other lately, stop reading this silly little blog & go do so right now!

I'm still exercising every day. It's gotten a lot easier on the muscles. Even when I push my number of reps until my muscles are quivering (Oh, that word!) I don't feel sore afterward. I think I will take that as a sign of progress! I have to actually, since the friggin' scale is not being kind to me at all. The damn thing says I gained two pounds last week. I am telling myself it's all the new muscle I'm developing (It is, it is! It really is!) but it was more than a tad dis-heartening when I climbed onto the scale and it decided to thumb its nose at me. (Accursed device!) There is definitely a lot of new muscle though and I am feeling good, so I'll just have to hope the weight will follow along with the program at some point.

One last thing today, for the writers amongst you . . . is it just me, or does it seem that there is more to the publishing industry than you could ever possibly understand? It seems that every time I think I have a handle on what I'll have to do when I'm published (note the positive thinking there!) I do a little more studying and find out there's more stuff I've never even considered. It's a bit intimidating, dont ya' think? Ah well, I'll worry about it when it happens I guess . . .


Monday, April 18, 2005

Monday and Murder

Alright, so I decided to let the boy live. (For now!) I figured the whole reading in class thing probably wasn't a killing-level offense. (besides, someone might have noticed he was missing from school & called the cops!) It is Monday though and I may feel differently by the time I get home tonight . . . We had a long conversation about focusing on what's going on in class & I think he took the whole thing seriously. He came home Friday night with a Spanish test on which he'd scored a perfect 100, so I think we're moving in the right direction.

The weekend was wonderful. The weather was perfect and I did a good bit of yardwork and sundry exterior projects I've been postponing for just such a loveley weekend! Kept me busy through all of Saturday and a good part of Sunday. Got my grill cleaned, filled and in perfect running order for the seaon (with two extra propane tanks - just in case!) and cooked my first outdoor meal of the year last night. (steak and fresh salad: pure heaven!) Actually, I usually cook on the grill year round but I ran out of propane (hence the two new tanks!) in November and didn't feel like messing with it in the cold, rain, and snow. Now though, I'm ready to grill with the best of them! BTW: just a suggestion, if you're trying to watch what you eat (as I am) DO NOT make the mistake of putting on the Food Network at 10:00 at night to watch the Reno Ribs Cook Off. Oh Lord, I was damn near chewing on the furniture I wanted those ribs so bad!

I did get a very nice chunk done on my GS Edits yesterday afternoon. Unfortunately the add-in chapter I'm working on, which was meant to be a short 2k-3k piece has taken off running on me. (Not, I'm afraid, an uncommon problem for me as Lee and Mel can tell you!) I'm currently at around 7k and going with the damn thing. I'm pretty happy with it but I have to be careful: it's supposed to be a section on the two MC's personal backgrounds but it's evolved into an abbreviated history of the world sort of thing. I'm trying to avoid InfoDump with it & I think I'm okay so far since it's taking place as part of a conversation and not just inserted prose. Also moving right along on the rework of "Fish". Still no new writing yet, but I had to back pedal and do a minor bit of re-write on a glaring consistency error. Somehow along the way I confused the abilities of the two MC's and got them inverted. Major oops!

Just posted 1/2 of my next Chapter for Crit work over on FM. Only 1/2 because (as usual) my chapters tend to run way beyond our set word limit (have I mentioned that I'm long-winded?) I can only slam the ladies with so much painful reading at a time!

Saw a remarkable film this weekend called "This Land is Mine". It's an old film with Maureen O'Hara and Charles Laughton but it was exceptionally powerful. It is set in a Nazi occupied town and deals with the issues of censorship, repression, and freedom through the eyes of a cowardly school teacher. He begins the film as a borderline collaborator who just wants no trouble but by the end he is a completely changed man. I don't know if it's available for rental, I saw it on AMC, but if you can find it, take the time to watch it. It's particularly poignant in light of current issues such as our "Patriot Act". Always beware of the friendly folks who are trying to "Help and Protect" you.

Anything else? Let's see . . . my son had a friend sleep over this weekend, a real nice kid. His folks are good friends of the wife and I. They spent most of their time playing video games, though they did take a break to fill out some (off color) "Ad-Libs" stories that they took great delight in reading aloud to us. I don't remember the last time I've seen two kids laugh so hard as they did when it came out of the story that I carried my wife around "In my butt". (hey, they wrote it not me!) Other than that just getting ready for our semi-annual Court-of-Honor for the Boy Scouts tomorrow night. That's where the boys receive all their badges, awards, ranks, etc. It's a nice ceremony where they are recognized in front of their parents and peers for the good things they've accomplished in the last six months. It's always a fun ceremony. Guess that covers the weekend . . .


Friday, April 15, 2005

The Living Language

Okay, Holly Lisle has a post on her site about grammar and the ridiculous lengths people will go to defend their idea of "proper usage". (Christ, some people need a life!) This whole concept of English being a static language for which there is only one accepted manner of use pisses me right the fuck off. Seriously, at what point did we lose the concept that all language is fluid, that it needs to modify and bend itself to the needs of its users or it serves no function and dies? I am a writer (of sorts) and I have some skills with the English language. I understand that sentences need to carry complete thoughts (usually), that verb/noun and tense agreement are important (most of the time) and that punctuation is a good thing (almost always). This fanatic nit-picking over dangling participles and which adverbs modifies what pronoun or whatever-the-hell-other thing the frustrated writers who settle for becoming English teachers force down their students throats is ridiculous. English is a living language. It changes daily and there is nothing wrong with that. I remember the fanaticism with which teachers pounced on the word "ain't" when I was in school. They swore up one side and down the other that is was not even a real word (despite the fact I heard it a thousand times a day in conversation. Often with those very teachers!) Now it appears in the Merriam Webster Dictionary as a part of regular speech. Rules are a useful starting point, but it is a writer's job to bend (hell, even break!) the rules whenever necessary to convey tone, timing, or meaning. The idea that there can be an absolute set of unchanging rules to govern a language is asinine.

Verily, if change be not requisite of speech, then even so wouldst all mine sentences read!

I feel better now.

Did some editing on GS last night. (Not enough though. Is it ever?) and got a healthy chunk of work done on "Fish". I'm almost through the first 60k words so I can pick up again where I left off. Really thinking of some very dark and creepy things for my two MC's in this once I get going again. I want to end this one under 100k but I guess that'll depend on what the characters decide to do. I have discovered that I am definitely a "by-the-seat-of-the-pants" writer. I don't do well with detailed outlines. I'm more productive and have much more fun when I let the characters write for me. I absolutely love it when I look back at my stuff and say: "Where the hell did that come from? I don't even remember writing that!" I think outlines intimidate me (sort of like English teachers!) and keep me from being free with the grey matter. (BTW: anybody know the correct spelling: grey or gray? Both come up alright in my spell checker.) Did some crit work with my Circle on FM; those ladies are prolific and we're doing a round robin of about two chapters a week each. It is absolutely fantastic to have contact with folks who are as serious about writing as I am. I think part of my problem in the past has been that I wrote in a vacuum. I don't have any friends who write or understand my need to so I was kinda stumbling along in the dark by myself for a very long time. (And there's nothing sadder to see than a fat bald man bouncing off walls!) Now I feel like I'm on the right path and I can see there are other folks traveling the same way. It's a major relief!

Still exercising and actually enjoying it! The program I'm doing is very low impact, though it is pretty tough. For once, I'm not constantly in pain from my exercise program! (I'm sorry, but the idiots who design these thing have never been overweight or they'd understand that men of my size simply cannot do three hundred Roman sit-ups!) This program is mostly painless -slightly sore muscles, but that's to be expected- none of the cramps, joint ache and migraines I've gotten in the past.

The wife just called me from work as I was writing this. She just spoke with my son's teacher about his Spanish grade this semester. Turns out one of the issues is that the boy has been reading in class instead of paying attention to the teacher. I know I should get mad but how can I be pissed at him for being a voracious reader? He learned it from me and it's a great thing but I have to get him to stop doing it in class. We had this problem in his science class earlier in the year and forbade the bringing of novels to school but he's snatching up the books they have available on the shelves in each classroom. I can't tell if I'm angry or proud right now. Ah well, either way you've gotta chuckle at his resourcefulness! I let you know tomorrow if I let him live or not.


Thursday, April 14, 2005

Writerly Dreams

Okay, so I am definitely not going to make my April 15th deadline for the GS edits. Last night I got pulled out to run through a half dozen stores with thewife, buying things we need to work on the house this weekend. I'm afraid there's no escape for me this time, I'll actually have to do some work about the home. (sigh) It's the price I pay for going camping so much. The wife tries to fit in twenty things on the weekends I'm free to make up for the ones I miss with Boy Scouts. Oh well, at least it's going to be a nice weekend weather-wise.

GS Edits . . . that's where I was! I'm not going to finish by tomorrow. I still have a solid hundred pages to go and I'm doing more (unexpected) add-ins. I'm excited by it though, it's some really good stuff. It's the first thing I've done that I really think is publishable. I have two other novels that I wrote but they are definitely not professional quality and it would take way too much effort to make them so. Even the basic plots are . . . well, blah! GS, Clans, and Fish are all much better (I hope!) and with a good bit of editing and some polish I won't be embarrased to send them out. I just have to shake some time free at night to get more done. I'm getting a little bit done on most nights, and a lot done on some nights. Now if I could only get a lot done on most nights . . .

Have a trainee I'm working with at work today so no writing over lunch. I needed to work through to get him up to speed on how we do things hereabouts! I'm anxious to get back onto "Fish" now, I have some ideas on where I need to go next with it. I originally set it aside because I wasn't sure I had the skill to write what I needed but the last few months have really built my confidence in my own wrting abilities. I'm no pro yet, but I think I'm getting closer. (Or I could be a self deluding, talentless, moron . . . Hey! That wasn't nice! I was speaking rhetorically.) I really want to get GS and Fish done and out to market ASAP. I've waited long enough to start working at my dreams, I don't plan on waiting one second more than I have to!


Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Sleep, Conversations, and Folding Socks

I'm very tired today.

Boy Scout meeting last night that went until 11:00 p.m. The adult leaders were working on the logistics and materials needed to run several upcoming events as well as our regular monthly meeting, and several boards-of-review (where Scouts earn new ranks) It was a crazy night and I didn't get to bed until after midnight, which is not enough sleep for this sorry old carcass! Ever since I started working out I've been sleeping much more deeply than I have in years (which is good) but it's also harder to get out of bed in the morning (which is not so good) I do feel fine and aware once I get up though (which is another good, so it's 2:1 with the good winning!)

Writing is running fine today, did a bunch of work on "Fish" though I haven't gotten to any of the new work on it yet, I'm still editing/familiarizing myself with the story. I now remember why I have such a hard time with this one. I took a lot of experiences (unpleasant ones) from my own childhood and mixed them into this story. I exaggerated them greatly of course, but the basic emotions are already in place for me and it's really disturbing. I'm also worried about this thing ever being published. There are events in there that my family will recognize, albeit blown out of proportion and context, and I wonder how they'll react? Oh well, can't worry about such things I suppose. They say "write what you know" and I know what it's like to be a scared little kid so they'll have to deal with the fact that it's just fiction.

Working out is going well so far, I'm not sore anymore (just a wee bit shaky afterward) and I can feel a lot more muscle (sadly, most of it is still encased by fat but it's there. . .no, it really is! I swear!) It's balancing nicely with my writing. Doing both in conjunction has made a major difference in my attitude. I am feeling really good about who I am and what I'm doing with my life right now (though, as we all know life can change that in an instant!) It feels like I'm finally in control of myself and moving in the direction I want to go. It's a very nice change of pace for me!

So I have a bit of a conversation running with SRH over at his Under Construction blog. He put up a post about the BSA stance towards homosexuality and I felt the need to comment (I know: you're shocked!) He actually makes some really good points and even though I don't necessarily agree with him I have to say that he definitely makes you think about the situation. Agree or Disagree: he presents a well reasoned argument.

The wife is working late tonight so I should get more done on my GS edits after I do the whole dinner and housework thing. Funny how there are certain things that each of us despise doing. I will gladly cook every night, while my wife hates it. She can go food shopping (or any type of shopping for that matter!) as happy as can be, while I'd prefer to walk over several miles of jagged glass barefoot. Socks are another funny one. My wife does all the laundry, and folds it (though I have to put away my own) except for socks. She flat out refuses to fold the socks into pairs. She'll let those bad boys lay out out on the couch until the Second Coming before she'll touch 'em! It's just a thing. I'm like that with the cats. Won't touch their food, litter, or clean up any "messes" they make. Just not gonna do it. What can I tell you? We're strange but well matched.


Tuesday, April 12, 2005

American Education

Great Googa-Mooga!

I just left a seminar at the office on 529 College Savings Funds. Do you have any idea how much they expect it to cost for a 4-year college when my son gets to that age? $155,000!!! The guy running the seminar suggested that we all needed to save at least $800/month to pay for our children's education. After we all stopped laughing at him (which took about 5 full minutes!) He changed tack and went for the "anything you put aside is good" approach. Who the hell can afford to put aside the kind of cash these "investment experts" recommend for college and retirement? (Other than the folks who have so much money they don't need to save for either one!) It's ridiculous. The last guys we had in recommended that I needed to put $1,500 per month into my 401k to meet my retirement needs. I (kindly) explained to him that I wouldn't need a retirement fund if I followed his advice. I'd starve to death long before I reached retirement age! Idiots.

Much done in the writing/editing departments! I did a solid 20 pages of redline on GS (that stands for "Godslayer" by the way. Lee pointed out that I might not have mentioned that.) as well as about 1,200 words of write-in for another chapter. (Yea, I know I said I was done with that but . . .) I did a lot of the re-read and line editing on "Fish" as well; about 50 pages worth. "Fish" is reading even better than I thought it would (so far) and I like what I have but it surely is some depressing stuff. I'm a little worried it's "over the top" at some points, but I'll let the Crit Circle tell me that when it's done.

So the boy came home upset from school yesterday. He got his semester grade for Spanish and it was the lowest grade he's ever gotten: a seventy-seven. He was terrified he was going to be killed (we had a small explosion by the wife earlier in the year when he only got an 86 in science!) and was on the verge of tears. He didn't know what to do because the whole foreign language thing is not working for him. It just isn't clicking and he doesn't know why. I had a long talk with him and explained that he (for once!) would actually have to work at this class. All his other classes are a cake-walk for him. I don't think he's ever had to actually study anything in his life and his grades average out in the high 90's consistently (though maybe not this semester after that Spanish grade!) Instead of flipping out on him (I called the wife at work and warned her in advance so she didn't wig out when he told her) I offered to sit with him and help him study for 1/2 hour each night after he finishes his homework. He was thrilled by the idea and we promptly set to it. (In all honesty, I think he was more thrilled with the fact that he didn't get his head handed to him than the increased study time!)

The wife and I have very different approaches to these types of situations. She thinks that coming down hard on him and punishment will keep him motivated. I disagree. I figure; the boy's got fantastic grades in general and a little bit of help and some patience will do the trick. In fairness to the wife, my son can really be a first class slacker when he wants to be. Sometimes a swift kick in the ass is all that works. I don't think so in this case though. He's real proud of his school grades and he was genuinely upset at the grade so I talked it over with the wife and we went with the soft sell on this one. I prefer that approach. I remember my folks pulling the whole roof down on my head when I brought in bad grades and it never worked. All it did was make me beligerent and resentful. (Okay, even more so than I normally was at that age!) So in the end it means I get to study Spanish every night with the boy. Should be fun, considering I never had a Spanish class in my life! (I was one of those Latin geeks! Eram, Eras, Erat, Eramis, Eratis, Erant!) Damned if I'm not even sure that is correct anymore!

Ah well, age catches us all don't it? And all the useless crap we were taught in school fades away. Which makes me think: I am a writer (of sorts!) and I have never had a single instance in my life where I have found a use for diagramming sentences or parsing a verb. I mean, if writers have no use for such crap, who does? Anyone out there? No? Then why the hell are we wasting time teaching this crap to our kids? How about we ditch it in favor of some more time with math and science, or even just some more time spent READING! Ah well, that's my rant for today. Short and sweet.


Monday, April 11, 2005

Monday: The Sequel

Ah, yes! My most beloved day of the week has returned with a vengeance. I wonder if Mondays suck for retired people too? I'm just wondering if it's the day itself or the fact that I have to return to work after a very cool weekend?

Well, the camping was abso-frikkin-lutely fantabulously filled with wonderment! (Come on, you gotta be impressed: nobody can fracture language like a writer!)To translate that back to something approaching English: we had a great time. The weather was mid-60's without a cloud to be seen. Friday night I threw my sleeping bag down on the shore of the lake and fell asleep gazing up at brilliant white stars. Saturday morning, I woke to the sound of woodpeckers and wild turkeys just as the sun crested the top of the trees on the other side of the lake and the water looked like it was catching fire. It was stunning. If you don't camp regularly you should (perhaps) reconsider your life. You're missing out on the wonder that (deity of choice) created for us.

AsI figured, I returned from the weekend ready to write and I started tackling "Fish" today (You remember: the novel that scares the crap out of me?) I'm mostly just reading through what I have of the 1st draft and making spelling/grammar corrections at this point but I need to re-familiarize myself with the story. I haven't touched it since October. Gotta say, I'm really liking what I've gone through so far. It has a lot of powerful imagery in it. Tonight the wife is working late again so I'll have time to get in some healthy editing on GS. I still want to try and hit the April 15th markup deadline I set for myself so I plan (suddenly I'm thinking of Steinbeck!) to do a good bit of work each night this week. I also have a pretty solid idea of what my agent query letter is going to look like (what I was thinking of as I watched those lovely, dancing, stars!) and I'll start actually writing it up when I start the type-ins for GS.

Didn't do my exercise routine while camping (Didn't need to! Hiking up and down hills, leaping logs, and fording rivers get the heart pumping just fine!) but I got right back into it first thing this morning. I was worried about that actually, I have a tendency to let things like exercise slide (hence the paunch) if I don't do them every day. Strange quirk of my psyche I guess: I will do just about anything, so long as I do it every day. I get into the habit of it. Problem is that it only takes one missed day to throw me off the habit! I've had periods in my life (maaannnyyy years ago!) where I worked out religiously for years, then dropped the whole program because I got a bad cold and was out of the habit for a few days. Sad ain't it? Writing works like that for me too, which is why I've been so worried about losing the rythm I picked up during NaNoWriMo that led to this (charmingly entertaining!) blog and two completed novels, with a third getting within hollerin' distance! So far; so good.

No other blogs to comment on today since I haven't had a chance to read any of my regulars yet (Monday is kicking my ass. Again.) I did get an e-mail from Will (The guy who writes the 'One of Ours' blog on the sidebar) in response to a message I sent him about his take on "The Dark Tower". He was glad to hear from someone else who enjoyed the series as much as he did. I think that folks have been too conditioned by Hollywood to always expect a happy, neatly wrapped up, ending to their stories. King doesn't give you that by any stretch but he does (I think) play fair with the characters and the situations they are in. I also have to add that TDT has added a lot of the fuel I've been running on with my writing. Stephen King gives a remarkable insight on what it means -and what it takes- to be a writer in those novels. He also gives some startling views on what it really means to be world famous (and it ain't as glamorous as we thought!)


Friday, April 08, 2005

Wonkiness and Weekends

Okay, Blogger is acting wonky as hell today, so I'm not sure I'll even get this post up. (which is fairly stupid. I mean, how would you know if I don't?) Ah well, extreme intelligence I have never been accused of! I did the shopping last night for the campout this weekend and HOLY CRAP! That was a whole lot of food. It took me nearly two hours to collect it all and get out of the store. (Did I mention I hate food shopping?) Luckily, the boy came with, so it wasn't as bad as it might have been. He's always entertaining to have around (not to mention he's useful for pushing the cart!)

I added a new link (hopefully!) to the sidebar today called "One of Ours" the writer has a great post on Stephen King's "Dark Tower" series. Warning: it contains spoilers!!! If you've read these novels (and you really should, they are fantastic!) it's worth stopping by to take in a well stated reader's view.

Did some crit work over on FM and posted my next chapter of "Clans" for mutilation by my trusted colleagues. (Lee uses a hatchet, Mel just sighs and shakes her head at me!) No writing this weekend (or posts. Now, now, don't cry . . .) but I will be hanging in the great outdoors and thinking about my stories, which always helps. If there is a better way to free the mind than staring into a campfire while listening to the sound of racing water and chirping crickets, I don't know it! I always feel revitalized and raring to write after camping. (makes me glad I do it at least once a month!)

So, I was in the car with the boy yesterday, listening to my "Jesus Christ Superstar" CD (he's still hooked on it) and he was asking me why the crowds would turn against him when they'd been followers of his. He also wondered why many changed their minds later and became christians. I searched for a way to explain and settled on the Pope's funeral.

"You see those millions of folks coming to say good-bye to him?" I asked.
"Yea, they must have really loved him"
"Three months ago, half of them were yelling about what a small minded jackass he was, but today he's their hero. In another year, they'll be talking about making him a Saint."
"What?" he asked, with much confusion. "That doesn't make sense!"
"Welcome to adult life, kid!"

It's funny how hard it is to explain concepts like "mob mentality" and "revisionist history" to an eleven year old. I'm starting to miss the old days when: "Why is the sky blue?" and "Where do babies come from?" were all I had to deal with! (I actually had to look one of those answers up in a book - I'll let you guess which one!) Some of the questions he's starting to ask are disturbingly insightful. He's taken to watching the evening news with me every day and he has a lot to say on the state of the world. It's a little depressing that he's growing up so fast but I'm pretty damn proud of the fact that he has a real interest in world events and zero tolerance for the world's unfairness. (and politicians. He hates politicians. Now where'd he get that from?) I'm liking the fact that he's a responsible kid and that he wants to be actively involved in making the world a better place. That's a very cool thing to see in your child!


Thursday, April 07, 2005

Whales on Ice


That'll piss you off every time! I had finished the entire blog for the day when I hit the wrong button by mistake and the whole damn thing tanked on me. Oh well, you'll have to settle for a re-hash of what I remember writing.

Let's see . . .

1. I'm camping this weekend.
2. Exercised again today. (Feeling good)
3. I got very little done on GS yesterday. (Doing taxes)
4. Won't get anything done this weekend (See #1 above)
5. Lost very funny line about me looking like: "Shamu on an ice rink" when this post crapped out (hence the title of the piece, which I am not changing! Take that, accursed computer!)
6. Will try to get some Editing in tonight. (Not holding breath; have to buy food for 35 people to camp all weekend)

That's it. Hmmmm . . . so this is what the blog would be like if I actually edited it. Not nearly as funny! Still, I'm not going back to re-write that whole thing. I'll talk at y'all tomorrow!


Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Sex and Blood

So Lee Goldberg has a post on his site today about sex education in schools. Oh man, does he ever hit the nail on the head! It's a very strange aspect of the American psyche that we are so terrified of this very simple act. (leftovers from our Puritan founders perhaps?) People will go miles out of their way to avoid so much as a mention of this subject with their eight year old, while they haven't the slightest qualm about letting him watch "Blade II" on television.


Did I miss something here? When did we decide as a nation that it's alright for kids to watch a few hundred people sliced, diced, burned, mutilated, and pureed but NOT (God forbid!) to see a naked breast? (Oh my Lord, Martha, get the kids out of the room!! This dang fool's talkin' about S... E... X!) Don't get me wrong, I am not one of those nuts who thinks we need to take all the violence out of our children's lives and let them watch nothing but "Barney" re-runs until they're eighteen, but the double standard confuses the hell out of me. This is a running argument I have with the wife. I let the boy sit with me and watch every documentary on reproduction and all the National Geographic shows on South American tribal mating rituals on cable. (No, I do not watch them just for the naked women! Well, maybe a little bit...) She completely freaks when she sees the naked folks on the TV. At the same time, she will sit with him and watch "Jaws", "Blade", and the "Terminator" films without batting an eye. What is it folks think is going to happen when a child knows about sex? Is it going to make him a sex fiend at the tender age of seven years old? (Sorry folks, they just ain't got that much interest in it yet!) Somehow, the human race survived millenia with children who undertood sexual activity from a very young age and thought little about it. It was nothing more than another aspect of adult life they never quite understood (like eating vegetables!)

Kids are curious by nature. They want to understand things. They really want to know about the things you keep from them because that's gotta be the really good stuff! My son is eleven. We had "The Talk" when he was only seven, because he brought the subject up, and I gave him honest answers. Ever since, it's been a matter of indifference to him. He knows how it works and why folks do it, but he is much more interested in the latest LOTR video game coming out on the market than he is in sex. This should be a non-issue in this day and age. Teach the kids what they need to know (check your own neurosis at the door, please!) and move on with your life. It's how you got here, your kids got here, and how their kids will get here some day. Knowledge leads to understanding: repression leads to perversion. It's as simple as that.

On to other things . . . As expected, I got no writing done last night, the Boy Scouts kept me too busy. I did get home in time to watch "The Shield" though. That is one intense show! The Blood Mobile is at my office today and -as always- I volunteered to give blood. Had some trouble though; the ladies could not find a vein in my arm to take blood from! (Damn, I know folks think I'm heartless, but this is ridiculous!) They dug around in my arm for a good two minutes with that large-bore cannon they call a needle but no luck. Strange, I'm usually one of their better clients. I always do the double platlet donation (where they take two pints of blood, remove the red cells and then pump one pint of the liquid back into you. it's a pretty neat process actually.) and they've never had any issues before.

Give blood. It saves lives. Maybe your own.

(We now return you to your regularly scheduled blog . . .)

Tonight I have to do the In-Law's taxes. Luckily, they're mostly retired and it should go quickly so I should (hopefully) get some work in on GS.


Tuesday, April 05, 2005

A Better Day

Having a much better day today. For starters, I did another few thousand words on GS last night, finishing up the major inserts for the novel. From here on it's straight line edits (I hope) and one or two small write-ins. It is my hope to be completely done with it by April 15th (Tax Day!) and start the type-in. I'll be sending out my agent queries as I'm doing the type-in so the next few weeks should get pretty busy. Should be fun doing all this with the wife scowling at me the whole time. She still ain't buyin' the concept that I'm a writer. She wanted me to do something the other day & asked my son where I was. He answered that I was in the kitchen, working. When she saw I was working on my GS edits she scolded the boy: "He's not working, he's playing with his papers again!". [sigh] She just don't get it. The boy at least understands (he writes a good bit himself - kid's a hell of a poet!) he came to my defense and tried to tell her how hard I was working but if it don't entail dirt, sweat, or running around like a mad person . . . (sitting on one's ass is only allowable if one is receiving cash for it!)

Did some crit work over on FM today and was very pleased to see that both ladies in my Crit Circle are really making great strides with their writing (Christ, I hope I am too!). Also found out I've been using the wrong nickname for one of them (hey, I'm just an ignorant male, okay?) she prefers to be called: "Lee" rather than "El" as you've seen her named here. (Both short for Eleah) Okay, did gender names change while I wasn't watching? How is it I'm working with two ladies named Mel & Lee? Maybe I should change my name to "Jamie" just to confuse things, eh? Ah well, they're great folks either way . . .

The workout went much better this morning. I am still dreadfully out of shape but at least I didn't feel sick to my stomach and have a migraine after I was done, so that's a plus. (Yea, lack of mind shattering agony is always a good thing!) I'm also trying to watch what I'm eating. I'm avoiding the "diet" thing because as I've said before: been there, done that, got the t-shirt. (Which no longer fits because my chubby ass ballooned up after I went off the damn diet!!!)

Have Boy Scouts tonight, so I don't know if I'll get any writing done. That's alright though, I really enjoy the meetings with the kids. We're planning a campout for this coming weekend for the new guys who just joined the troop (12 in all) to give them some basic Boy Sout training. It should be a lot of fun.

On a side note, I took the "Political Compass Quiz" that Holly L. posted on her site yesterday. I was really surprised by the results it gave me. They placed me in the same political sphere as Ghandi, the Dali Lahma, and Nelson Mandela. Nice company to be in, but definitely not where I'd have placed myself! I'm pro death penalty, and most folks find me a bit conservative so I wonder about the accuracy of the test, but it was fun to take.


Monday, April 04, 2005

Monday's Revenge

Ahh, another lovely Monday morning! (pausing to puke)

If I believed in such things, I would swear Mondays are the work of Satan. They are the Dark One's revenge upon humankind for causing his humiliating downfall and eternal suffering. (That and "The Bachelor". Only a being of true evil could create such heinous concepts!) Ah well, forgive my bitching; I started exercising this morning for the first time in. . . well, at least I started, okay? I am sore, tired, and feeling just a wee bit cranky because I was (forcibly!) shown exactly how out of shape I really am. It is at times like this that I very much want to go back to bed, pull the covers over my head and forget that the very concept of Monday was ever invented.

The weekend was fun though. It poured non-stop here in Jersey (in fact, we got some very serious flooding) so I couldn't do any of the yardwork the wife wanted done (I was SO disappointed!). Instead, I spent the entire weekend with my son, demolishing legions of evil orcs, trolls, and sundry other baddies on his PS2. We have been playing "LOTR Third Age" together whenever we have a few free moments (need more of those!) and this weekend was a ton of fun. We played straight through with only a few breaks for food and a couple of hours sleep. We devastated Middle Earth and laughed our butts off along the way. The wife doesn't understand how we could spend so much time playing a video game. She gets bored with them after about 20 minutes. Quite frankly, I do to. . . unless I'm playing with my son.

If you've never taken the time to sit and play a video game with your kids, I strongly recommend it. The game is okay, but the time spent talking and laughing with them is priceless. As we play, my son and I have more fun teasing and torturing each other and making fun of each others skills (or in my case: lack of!) and abusing the characters on screen than we do with the playing. For example: my son was playing the "Knight-in-Shining Armor" character, a huge guy in more metal than a Sherman Tank and wearing a huge helm with flowing white wings on it. He has some very heroic name on screen, but my son immediately re-titled him: "Big Chief Feather Head of the Tin-Can Tuna Clan". We also created various battle cries and voices to go along with our characters. It was an extended version of make-believe with a whole lot of laughter, sword fights, and explosions mixed in. Great weekend!

I did get some writing done as well; a few thousand words on GS add-ins (It's handwritten so I don't have an exact count) and a few pages of line edits. Speaking of writing, Holly Lisle had a great post on "Why do you write". It's some pretty interesting stuff. I also got a big kick out of her article on profanity. Reminded me of my Aunt Margie. She was a tough old broad who cursed like a truck driver. My mother -a very old fashioned Roman Catholic lady- was always mortified by her choice of colorful adjectives and was forever rushing us children out of the room when Aunt Marge would start popping off. I remember a conversation I had with my Aunt about it once. She was staying at our house and it was very late (she was an insomniac). I was about 14 and we were the only two awake in the house:

"Your mother doesn't like me very much," she said.
"What makes you say that," I asked.
"She gets mad and leaves the room when I curse. It's ridiculous. Just because I say 'fuck' once in a while doesn't make me a bad person and it doesn't offend God like she says. God's not stupid, he knows exactly what I mean no matter what words I use. I could say 'fudge' or 'screw' and that would make your mom happy but God still knows I mean 'fuck', so I just say 'fuck'. She says 'fudge' and means the same thing, I'm just more honest about it."

I'm paraphrasing of course, but that was the gist of it. Thinking about that always makes me smile. My Aunt was one hell of a woman! I learned a lot from her.

The boy and I also watched the season finale of "Battlestar Galactica" Friday night. Oh man, that was some great TV!! I love that the show has such a dark and desperate edge to it. That was always missing from the original. I loved the first series as a kid but even then I wondered how the main characters could seem so happy-go-lucky when their entire civilization had been destroyed and they were still being hunted. The new show provides a lot of twists and solid back story. It even has a solid reasoning behnd why the bad guys are pursuing the good guys. (The scary part is that it's getting harder to figure if the baddies are actually bad at all or just pursuing a path necessary for their own survival as a species!) The cliffhanger at the end caught me completely by surprise (no spoilers here: go watch it!) and that almost never happens on TV. My son sat there with a glazed look on his face and his jaw hanging open for a good two minutes after he saw it. That's good story telling. Lee Goldberg also had some thoughts on the finale on his Blog. Don't worry Lee, you're not the only one who becomes a fan-boy whenever this show is on!


Friday, April 01, 2005

The Truth of Me

Got a fair piece of editing done on GS last night in addition to the inserts I did. That puts me at just past the halfway point on the edits. I'm going to have to start writing up query letters for Agents in the next few days. I want GS to be done & ready for submittal before I go shipping them out though, so I'll have a few weeks to polish the basic query to a brilliant shine! I've been doing (some) research on various Agents in the Fantasy field so I have a list of who I'm sending queries to right off the bat. After they turn me down (gotta love the positive attitude, eh?) I'll look into who else might be a good fit. Still haven't touched "Fish": I'm just not ready yet. That requires a huge emotional commitment on my part that the schedule is just not allowing me right now. GS & "Clans" I can work during odd hours and with interruptions. The style of them allows me to slip right back into writing mode after running out to dinner or a meeting, or whatever. "Fish" requires long periods of time with my butt in front of the computer. I have to work into the right emotional state for each scene and that means I can't be interrupted. Good Luck!

So, did I mention yet that I actually had a short story of mine published in a pro (per SFWA standards) magazine a few years back? It was called "Sunset of the Blue Heron" and it appeared in the premier issue of Adventures of Sword and Sorcery. I mention it because it was the last time I did any serious writing in a nearly five year period. Goofy, huh? I've always wanted to be a writer and shortly after I make my first real sale, I stopped writing. There was a lot going on in my life at the time: my Father died of cancer, my wife was fighting breast cancer (the two knuckleheads used to swap chemo stories and compare scars!) and a world of financial troubles. The big thing (or so I thought) was my father passing. Part of my own inner fantasy of what it would be like when I was a "real writer" was handing my old man the first copy of my novel, personalized to him. I knew that would be the moment when he was truly proud of me, that he would finally realize I had become a worthwhile person. I lost that dream when he died and I thought that was where my desire to write went. I figured I'd never really wanted to write, just wanted to impress my Dad. Strange thing was, the need to write kept bugging me. I just kept pushing it aside. I did pen another 3-4 short stories over those years but I never bothered to revise or attempt to get them published. The desire just wasn't there anymore (or so I thought!).

Round about October of '04 I was browsing the web when I came across a link to something called NaNoWriMo (a very goofy name, anyway you cut it!) and I decided to see what the hell it was. Well, I read through their site and thought the idea of trying to write 50,000 words in one month was absolutely insane; so of course I signed up immediately. There was no pressure here, no need to be published, or professional, or even be good! It was just plugging any old thing you wanted onto the page and moving on without looking back. "Quantity over quality" as the site says. Imagine my surprise when I got to the end of November and discovered that I had written 68,000 words! Without the expectations and pressure I'd been putting on myself, the words simply flew from my fingers. (Hey, I ain't claiming they're good words!) More incredible, it was the most fun I could remember having in years. I felt good about myself and was really proud of what I'd done, so I decided to keep on doing it.

I discovered a couple of things about myself while doing NaNo:

1. I'm a novelist, not a short story writer. I don't have the knack for presenting the stories in my head in just a few thousand words. I need space to grow my thoughts and ideas (and pontificate. I definitely like the whole pontificating thing!)

2. The words are there, I don't have to fight to pull them out I just have to let them free. I was bottle necking around my own brain!

3. I didn't want to be a writer to impress my father. I am a writer, I always have been. The writing block I hit wasn't because he died, it was because I was afraid. I made an actual sale: someone thought my work was worthwhile and I'd reveled in that. What if it was only a fluke though? What if I had blown my load in that one story? What if I didn't have what it takes to keep going at this profession? Part of me thought it would be worse to have folks laugh at me for being a "One Hit Wonder" than it would be to have never had anything published. Hell, LOTS of folks want to be writers but never make it. How many folks do you know who get there then fail? That realization has made a huge difference to me. Writing doesn't terrify me anymore (it just scares the crap out of me!). I know that I may fail but at least I'll fail after trying, not because I quit. Seems simple don't it? You'd be surprised at the mess not understanding that made of my life for those 5 years!

Anyway, I'm off to visit Forward Motion and see what's up in my Crit Circle. Been a quiet week over there. One of the ladies is on vacation and I haven't heard from the other in a few days. (I'm so lonely!) Looking forward to the Season Finale of BSG tonight!! Great show! I'm actually home this weekend (for a change) so I should have a chance to post.